Dear Wendy: “I Gave My BFF A Place To Stay And Now I Feel Taken Advantage Of”

My best friend of 11 years has been living with my fiancé and me for the past two months because she’s having marital issues, and after a year of marriage isn’t sure she wants to be married anymore. I have been nothing but supportive, not judging her. She has been living with us for free (including food) as she has to still pay half her mortgage and household bills. In the beginning of all this, she had started a “flirtation” with a guy at work, meeting him for dinner, and talking to him every day after work and before bed. His true colors started to show so she slowly moved away. Since then, she has started texting someone we work with, and being secretive about it. One night she said she’d be home around 10, but didn’t come back until 1:30. She said she had been home hanging out with her husband and fell asleep on the couch. I think she was with the new guy. Today, when she was in the shower, I checked her texts and there is definitely something going on with them. I feel hurt and like I can’t trust her. We opened our home to her and I feel like she is abusing my trust. I know I should not have looked at her texts, but my gut told me something was going on. I talked to my fiancé about it and he wants to tell her to leave. I don’t want to send her packing, but at the same time I am feeling very used. What should I do? — Feeling Taken Advantage Of

You should stop enabling your friend and start minding your own business (for the sake of your friendship as well as your own relationship). You should also probably examine why you’ve opened your home — for free and for a seemingly open-ended amount of time — to someone who is showing zero interest in addressing the issues that brought her there. If you were really being a friend to her, you’d be encouraging her to make the next step, whether that’s working things out with her husband or beginning the process of formally separating from him. This limbo-land she’s living in — the one where you’re actively enabling her to remain — isn’t doing her any good. It’s likely doing her some harm, actually. If there was ever a chance of her patching things up with her husband, that chance has probably shrunk considerably in the two months she’s been ignoring him and behaving like she’s single.

So, what is it you’re hoping will come out of this situation? Obviously, you must have some expectations for your friend or you wouldn’t feel so “taken advantage of” that she’s failing to meet them. So, does she know what they are? If not, it’s hardly fair to be mad at her for not meeting them. If you have a problem with the way she’s conducting herself or you feel she isn’t meeting expectations you have for her, talk to her about it. You’re basically supporting her right now, so you have every right to voice your concern. What you don’t have a right to do is snoop through her things; that’s just juvenile and disrespectful.

What really bugs me about your letter the most, though, is not the snooping or the harm-disguised-as-help you’re offering your friend; it’s the blatant disregard for your fiancé’s feelings. He’s had to put up with this freeloader in his home for two whole months with no end in sight and rather than listen to him when he said he’s ready for her to leave, your response is “I don’t want to send her packing.” But why not? Obviously, her staying with you isn’t helping her relationship, and if you’re not careful, your own relationship is going to be in jeopardy, too. Maybe it already is, and you know that, and having your best friend around has been a good distraction from your own problems. I don’t know. What I do know, though, is the situation as it currently is is an absolute recipe for disaster. At least three relationships — your friend’s marriage, your friendship, and your relationship with your fiancé — are at risk, and if you don’t make an immediate change, you’re actively putting them all in danger. It’s time to kick your friend out or start charging her rent while she formulates an exit plan.

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